Pitchfork Music Festival

One of the greatest strengths of the Pitchfork Music Festival is organizers’ willingness to showcase up-and-coming artists as well as bona fide superstars like Solange and PJ Harvey, both of whom performed at the Chicago event over the weekend of July 14-16. The 2017 edition – which featured absolutely gorgeous weather all three days – found fans falling head over heels for fiery punks, soulful singers and poetic songwriters of the next generation.

Angel Olsen
Angel Olsen won over new fans with stirring songs that seep into your soul and stay there

With three raw, romantic studio albums and a previous Pitchfork performance under her belt, Angel Olsen was a bit of a legend coming into Union Park, however she still managed to pull in countless new fans with her evocative Saturday evening set. Her stirring songs – that seep into your soul and stay there – perfectly warmed things up for hip-hop legends A Tribe Called Quest, who were closing out the stage following Olsen’s set.

A Tribe Called Quest
Who got the vibe/it’s the Tribe, y’all
Dawn Richard
Dawn Richard’s set provided a unique oasis

It’s a tough job opening for such a highly-anticipated headliner. Many fans waited up against the rails for hours and hours excited to experience Q-Tip and company run through tracks from their debut album, “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm,” all the way to 2016’s “We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service,” but Olsen’s magnetic stage presence and subtly seductive songs including “High & Wild,” “Shut Up Kiss Me” and “Woman” were absolutely irresistible to all with in earshot.

On Friday afternoon, Dawn Richard showed fans the beauty of being “Wild N’ Young” with an upbeat set that stirred waves of dancing across the sea of R&B fans at the Blue Stage. Her “Calypso” rhythms gave her set a completely unique vibe that helped it stand out as an oasis of tropical flavor among the more traditional sounds emanating from the speakers elsewhere on the grounds. Kamaiyah – who took time out to encourage everyone to be positive despite presidential stresses weighing the country down – also inspired joy during her opening night performance.

For most of the weekend, a party atmosphere ruled over the Pitchfork crowd, but a pair of punk-influenced, noisy rock bands brought raw power and unbridled energy to the festivities. Priests set the performance bar high with their Green Stage opening set unleashing musical madness during the bad attitude love song, “JJ,” and the touchy-feely rager, “Doctor.” The following day, Cherry Glazerr – fronted by the project’s fearless visionary, Clementine Creevy, who crawled her way onto the Blue Stage with animalistic intensity – dropped a rapid fire rock and roll assault – including a stellar rendition of the dangerous and droning track, “Had Ten Dollaz” – on the unsuspecting crowd.

Priests set the performance bar high with their Green Stage opening set

Audience members posted up at the Green Stage for Solange’s artful and inspired festival-closing set on Sunday evening were treated to a welcome surprise when Chicago’s own Jamila Woods‘ performance was transferred from the Blue Stage following a last-minute cancellation from The Avalanches. The Chance the Rapper collaborator was all smiles looking out onto the massive crowd at the main stage as she brought a little bit of “Heavn” down to earth. Her angelic vocals sounded downright divine as she poured poetry into the microphone and the onstage addition of the Hiplet Ballerina dancers solidified the performance as a Pitchfork Festival highlight.

Jamila Woods
Chicago’s own Jamila Woods was all smiles after her set was transferred to the main stage

After such an inspiring, captivating and fun weekend, we can’t wait to see what Pitchfork has in store for 2018. See you there!

Laurie Fanelli is a Chicago-based writer and photographer who specializes in live entertainment coverage. She is at home at major music festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo and, of course, Lollapalooza and...